We were all so excited to be going to Thorpe Park Resort for a family day out.
Our team for the day was me, my mum Elaine (Nonna to the kids), Amber and Jacob. Dad, Mark, was off at a festival for the weekend.
As we looked at the park map on thorpepark.com before we set off, our daughter Amber was excitedly telling me which rides she wanted to go on. We even had a sneaky look on YouTube at some of the rides before we went. Our son Jacob couldn't wait to go to Angry Birds Land.
In about an hour and a half's drive, we got nearer the park. The kids shouting out every time they saw the brown signs saying 'Thorpe Park'.
Heading through the famous entrance, we picked up our tickets and map, walked over the bridge, past the Shark Hotel and through the dome to collect our Fastrack wristbands.
While we collected our Fastrack passes, we were booked a time slot for the new Derren Brown's Ghost Train! Eeek!
A really good tip is to go to Guest services located just underneath the Dome. We got Jacob's height measured and he got a wristband saying he could go on ride of 1.1 metres and under. Just saves hassle with the height restrictions.
As we got there a little later to avoid queues, people were already on the rides. You could hear screams coming from the brave people on the rollercoasters nearby!
Looking at our big map, we planned where we would go first. Amber wanted to head over to Vortex as that was the nearest ride.
Having fastrack really does make it quicker going on the rides, you don't have to wait as long in the queues.
The good thing about having my mum come with us, she is a bit of a thrill seeker, and would be Amber's ride partner for the day. I'm a bit of a scaredy cat!
While my mum and Amber went on Vortex, me and my son, Jacob watched them. Ambers face was a picture when she got off!
Next Jacob and Nonna headed to Mr Monkey's Banana Ride, which is a big banana that swings. Jacob loved it.
We were quite near one of the big roller coasters, Colossus. Again, team thrill seekers rushed off to join the queue. Amber is 12 now, so is the perfect height to go on any of the monster rides. I think because her friends at school had been on them, she wanted to go on them too. And this was a big one! She's so much braver than I am, must take after her dad for that!
As it was lunchtime, we decided to grab some food. There's plenty of food outlets for all tastes, pizza, fish and chips and burgers among a few. We decided to have a burger in the Bush BBQ as it was near the Derren Brown's Ghost train.
Me and mum shared a chicken BBQ melt burger, Jacob had a cheeseburger and Amber had lattice fries (I think she was a bit nervous to eat much). All washed down with a free refill in the £6 cup we bought. There are plenty of outlets to keep you hydrated around the park and once you buy the cup, you can go to any (take your receipt) and fill it up.
As they had a time slot, getting on the Derren Brown's ghost train didn't take too long. And before we knew it my mum and Amber came out looking shocked! Of course, I didn't go on it, someone had to look after Jacob - well that was my excuse anyway!
I can't tell you anything about the ghost train, as it would spoil it for people. But all I can say, is Amber and my mum had an experience they will never forget!
Thorpe Park is great because everything is close together. You don't have to walk miles to get to the next ride.
As we entered Angry Birds land, we decided to all go in the Angry Birds 4D experience. Something I thought would be ok for Jacob. I was wrong!
After settling in our seats and putting on our special glasses, the animation started. The seats moved, we were sprayed with water, felt wind rushing in our faces among other things. Jacob hated it. I think it was the shock of the seats moving, but he took his glasses off and spent the rest of the show with his hat over his eyes, very upset!
He soon got over his experience as nonna took him on the Storm in a Teacup. He was back to a smiling happy boy.
I can't quite believe that Amber went on the Angry Birds Detonator ride. I don't think she realised what it was until she was right up at the top, when the countdown began. Gulp!
After another application of suncream (it was very hot that day), we went to the Rhumba Rapids at the top of the park. I didn't go on as I wanted to take pictures and video of them on it. Jacob took great delight in telling me all about it!
After another drink refill stop, Amber wanted to go on another of the big rides, Nemesis Inferno. Just by the name, you can tell it's going to be high and very fast.
Amber was a bit gutted that Stealth was closed for maintenance work, but she said it gives us another excuse to come back another day!
Mum and Amber rushed off to join the queue, a little time went by, then I got a phone call from Amber saying - with an excited voice - 'Mum, me and Nonna are going on Nemesis again, see you in a bit'.
As the rides closed at 6pm, people were running around the park to get a last thrill before the park closed.
Walking back to the car, we talked about our day. It was such a great family day out, something for everyone and even if, like me, you aren't too keen on going on the rides, just seeing the faces of your loved ones coming off rides is a pleasure to see.
With our memories of the day still whirring around in our heads, we walked back to the car with the kids, over-excitedly reminiscing about the day.
No sooner had we got on to the motorway on our journey home, Jacob was fast asleep.
We made a video of our day which you can watch below.
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When you've been out for the day, and you get back home, the last thing you want to do is start cooking a big meal. So I decided to make my mum's Shepherds Pie with Branston Baked Beans. After all, I had the expert with me and my helpers Amber and Jacob!
Here's what ingredients you will need - Serves 4/6 people:
- 500g beef mince
- 1 tin of Branston Baked Beans
- 1 onion
- 4 stock cubes (whichever flavour, but we think beef is best)
- 2 tbsp gravy granules
- 5/6 medium potatoes
- Splash of milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- Cheese of your choice (enough to sprinkle on top)
Here's how we make our Shepherds Pie:
1: Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.
2: Peel potatoes and put them on the hob to boil.
3: Chop the onion.
4: Put mince and onion in an oven-proof dish, break the mince up.
5: Crumble 4 stock cubes over the mince and onion
6: Add boiling water (just enough to cover everything) and give it a good stir.
7: Put it in the oven for 30 minutes.
8: Take out of the oven and add your tin of Branston Baked Beans.
9: Add the gravy granules and give it another stir.
10: When the potatoes are cooked, mash them using a splash of milk, and butter.
11: Take out the mince mixture from the oven and scoop the mash on top.
12: Add grated cheese on top of the mash.
13: Eat any cheese that's left over! My little cheese monster, Jacob!
13: Put it back in the oven until the cheese has melted and is a golden colour.
14: Serve with gravy and either on it's own or with vegetables.
Empty plates all round!
This blog post is in association with Branston UK